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Bouazizi’s heavy eyelids parted as the Muezzin recited the final call for the first Adhan of the day.

“As-salatu Khayrun Minan-nawm”
Prayer is better than sleep

Rising from the torment of another restless night, Bouazizi wiped the sleep from his droopy eyes as his feet touched the cold stone floor.

Throughout the frigid night, the devilish jinn did their work, eagerly jabbing away at Bouazizi with pointed sticks, tormenting his troubled conscience with the worry of his nagging indebtedness. All night the face of the man Bouazizi owed money to haunted him. Bouazizi could see the man’s greasy lips and brown teeth jawing away, inches from his face. He imagined chubby caffeine stained fingers reaching toward him to grab some dinars from Bouazizi’s money box.

Bouazizi turned all night like he was sleeping on a board of spikes. His prayers for a restful night again went unanswered. The pall of a blue fatigue would shadow Bouazizi for most of the day.

Bouazizi’s weariness was compounded by a gnawing hunger. By force of habit, he grudgingly opened the food cupboard with the foreknowledge that it was almost bare. Bouazizi’s premonition proved correct as he surveyed a meager handful of chickpeas, some eggs and a few sparse loaves. It was just enough to feed his dependant family; younger brothers and sisters, cousins and a terminally disabled uncle. That left nothing for Bouazizi but a quick jab to his empty gut. He would start this day without breakfast.

Bouazizi made a living as a street vendor. He hustles to survive. Bouazizi’s father died in a construction accident in Libya when he was three. Since the age of 10, Bouazizi had pushed a cart through the streets of Sidi Bouzid; selling fruit at the public market just a few blocks from the home that he has lived in for almost his entire life.

At 27 years of age, Bouazizi has wrestled the beast of deprivation since his birth. To date, he has bravely fought it to a standstill; but day after day the multi-headed hydra of life has snapped at him. He has squarely met the eyes of the beast with fortitude and resolve; but the sharp fangs of a hardscrabble life has sunken deep into Bouazizi’s spleen. The unjust rules of society are powerful claws that slash away at his flesh, bleeding him dry: while the spiked tendrils of poverty wrap Bouazizi’s neck, seeking to strangle him.

Bouazizi is a workingman hero; a skilled warrior in the fight for daily bread. He is accustomed to living a life of scarcity. His daily deliverance is the grace of another day of labor and the blessed wages of subsistence.

Though Allah has blessed this man with fortitude the acuteness of terminal want and the constant struggle to survive has its limits for any man; even for strong champions like Bouazizi.

This morning as Bouazizi washed he peered into a mirror, closely examining new wrinkles on his stubble strewn face. He fingered his deep black curls dashed with growing streaks of gray. He studied them through the gaze of heavy bloodshot eyes. He looked upward as if to implore Allah to salve the bruises of daily life.

Bouazizi braced himself with the splash of a cold water slap to his face. He wiped his cheeks clean with the tail of his shirt. He dipped his toothbrush into a box of baking powder and scoured an aching back molar in need of a root canal. Bouazizi should see a dentist but it is a luxury he cannot afford so he packed an aspirin on top of the infected tooth. The dissolving aspirin invaded his mouth coating his tongue with a bitter effervescence.

Bouazizi liked the taste and was grateful for the expectation of a dulled pain. He smiled into the mirror to check his chipped front tooth while pinching a cigarette **** from an ashtray. The roach had one hit left in it. He lit it with a long hard drag that consumed a good part of the filter. Bouazizi’s first smoke of the day was more filter then tobacco but it shocked his lungs into the coughing flow of another day.

Bouazizi put on his jacket, slipped into his knockoff NB sneakers and reached for a green apple on a nearby table. He took a big bite and began to chew away the pain of his toothache.

Bouazizi stepped into the street to catch the sun rising over the rooftops. He believed that seeing the sunrise was a good omen that augured well for that day’s business. A sunbeam braking over a far distant wall bathed Bouazizi in a golden light and illumined the alley where he parked his cart holding his remaining stock of week old apples. He lifted the handles and backed his cart out into the street being extra mindful of the cracks in the cobblestone road. Bouazizi sprained his ankle a week ago and it was still tender. Bouazizi had to be careful not to aggravate it with a careless step. Having successfully navigated his cart into the road, Bouazizi made a skillful U Turn and headed up the street limping toward the market.

A winter chill gripped Bouazizi prompting him to zip his jacket up to his neck. The zipper pinched his Adam’s Apple and a few droplets of blood stained his green corduroy jacket. Though it was cold, Bouazizi sensed that spring would arrive early this year triggering a replay of a recurring daydream. Bouazizi imagined himself behind the wheel of a new van on his way to the market. Fresh air and sunshine pouring through the open windows with the cargo space overflowing with fresh vegetables and fruits.

It was a lifelong ambition of Bouazizi to own a van. He dreamed of buying a six cylinder Dodge Caravan. It would be painted red and he would call it The Red Flame. The Red Flame would be fast and powerful and sport chrome spinners. The Red Flame would be filled with music from a Blaupunkt sound system with kick *** speakers. Power windows, air conditioning, leather seats, a moonroof and plenty of space in the back for his produce would complete Bouazizi’s ride.

The Red Flame would be the vehicle Bouazizi required to expand his business beyond the market square. Bouazizi would sell his produce out of the back of the van, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood. No longer would he have to wait for customers to come to his stand in the market. Bouazizi would go to his customers. Bouazizi and the Red Flame would be known in all the neighborhoods throughout the district. Bouazizi shook his head and smiled thinking about all the girls who would like to take rides in the Red Flame. Bouazizi and his Red Flame would be a sight to be noticed and a force to be reckoned with.

“EEEEEYOWWW” a Mercedes horn angrily honked; jarring Bouazizi from the reverie of his daydream. A guy whipping around the corner like a silver streak stuck his head out the window blasting with music yelling, “Hey Mnayek, watch where you push that *******.”

The music faded as the Mercedes roared away. “Barra nikk okhtek” Bouazizi yelled, raising his ******* in the direction of the vanished car. “The big guys in the fancy cars think the road belongs to them”, Bouazizi mumbled to himself.

The insult ****** Bouazizi off, but he was accustomed to them and as he limped along pushing his cart he distracted himself with the amusement of the ascending sun chasing the fleeting shadows of the night, sending them scurrying down narrow alleyways.

Bouazizi imaged himself a character from his favorite movie. He was a giant Transformer, chasing the black shadows of evil away from the city into the desert. After battling evil and conquering the bad guys, he would transform himself back into the regular Bouazizi; selling his produce to the people as he patrolled the highways of Tunisia in the Red Flame, the music blasting out the windows, the chrome spinners flashing in the sunlight. Bouazizi would remain vigilant, always ready to transform the Red Flame to fight the evil doers.

The bumps and potholes in the road jostled Bouazizi’s load of apples. A few fell out of the wooden baskets and were rolling around in the open spaces of the cart. Bouazizi didn’t want to risk bruising them. Damaged merchandise can’t be sold so he was careful to secure his goods and arrange his cart to appeal to women customers. He made sure to display his prized electronic scale in the corner of the cart for all to see.

Bouazizi had a reputation as a fair and generous dealer who always gave good value to his customers. Bouazizi was also known for his kindness. He would give apples to hungry children and families who could not pay. Bouazizi knew the pain of hunger and it brought him great satisfaction to be able to alleviate it in others.

As a man who valued fairness, Bouazizi was particularly proud of his electronic scale. Bouazizi was certain the new measuring device assured all customers that Bouazizi sold just and correct portions. The electronic scale was Bouazizi’s shining lamp. He trusted it. He hung it from the corner post of his cart like it was the beacon of a lighthouse guiding shoppers through the treachery of an unscrupulous market. It would attract all customers who valued fairness to the safe harbor of Bouazizi’s cart.

The electronic scale is Bouazizi’s assurance to his customers that the weights and measures of electronic calculation layed beyond any cloud of doubt. It is a fair, impartial and objective arbiter for any dispute.

Bouazizi believed that the fairness of his scale would distinguish his stand from other produce vendors. Though its purchase put Bouazizi into deep debt, the scale was a source of pride for Bouazizi who believed that it would help his profits to increase and help him to achieve his goal of buying the Red Flame.

As Bouazizi pushed his cart toward the market, he mulled his plan over in his mind for the millionth time. He wasn't great in math but he was able to calculate his financial situation with a degree of precision. His estimations triggered worries that his growing debt to money lenders may be difficult to payoff.

Indebtedness pressed down on Bouazizi’s chest like a mounting pile of stones. It was the source of an ever present fear coercing Bouazizi to live in a constant state of anxiety. His business needed to grow for Bouazizi to get a measure of relief and ultimately prosper from all his hard work. Bouazizi was driven by urgency.

The morning roil of the street was coming alive. Bouazizi quickened his step to secure a good location for his cart at the market. Car horns, the spewing diesel from clunking trucks, the flatulent roar of accelerating buses mixed with the laughs and shrieks of children heading to school composed the rising crescendo of the city square.

As he pushed through the market, Bouazizi inhaled the aromatic eddies of roasting coffee floating on the air. It was a pleasantry Bouazizi looked forward to each morning. The delicious wafts of coffee mingling with the crisp aroma of baking bread instigated a growl from Bouazizi’s empty stomach. He needed to get something to eat. After he got money from his first sale he would by a coffee and some fried dough.

Activity in the market was vigorous, punctuated by the usual arguments of petty territorial disputes between vendors. The disagreements were always amicably resolved, burned away in rising billows of roasting meats and vegetables, the exchange of cigarettes and the plumes of tobacco smoke rising as emanations of peace.

Bouazizi skillfully maneuvered his cart through the market commotion. He slid into his usual space between Aaban and Aameen. His good friend Aaban sold candles, incense, oils and sometimes his wife would make cakes to sell. Aameen was the markets most notorious jokester. He sold hardware and just about anything else he could get his hands on.

Aaban was already burning a few sticks of jasmine incense. It helped to attract customers. The aroma defined the immediate space with the pleasant bouquet of a spring garden. Bouazizi liked the smell and appreciated the increased traffic it brought to his apple cart.

“Hey Basboosa#, do you have any cigarettes?“, Aameen asked as he pulled out a lighter. Bouazizi shook the tip of a Kent from an almost empty pack. Aameen grabbed the cigarette with his lips.

“That's three cartons of Kents you owe me, you cheap *******.” Bouazizi answered half jokingly. Aameen mumbled a laugh through a grin tightly gripping the **** as he exhaled smoke from his nose like a fire breathing dragon. Bouazizi also took out a cigarette for himself.

“Aameem, give me a light”, Bouazizi asked.

Aameen tossed him the lighter.

“Keep it Basboosa. I got others.” Aameen smiled as he showed off a newly opened box of disposable lighters to sell on his stand.

“Made in China, Basboosa. They make everything cheap and colorful. I can make some money with these.”

Bouazizi lit his next to last cigarette. He inhaled deeply. The smoke chased away the cool air in Bouazizi’s lungs with a shot of a hot nicotine rush.

“Merci Aameen” Bouazizi answered. He put the lighter into the almost empty cigarette pack and put it into his hip pocket. The lighter would protect his last cigarette from being crushed.

The laughter and shouts of the bazaar, the harangue of radio voices shouting anxious verses of Imam’s exhorting the masses to submit and the piecing ramble of nondescript AM music flinging piercing unintelligible static surrounded Bouazizi and his cart as he waited for his first customers of the day.

Bouazizi sensed a nervous commotion rise along the line of vendors. A crowd of tourists and locals milling about parted as if to avoid a slithering asp making its way through their midst. The hoots of vendors and the cackle of the crowd made its way to Bouazizi’s knowing ear. He knew what was coming. It was nothing more then another shakedown by city officials acting as bagmen for petty municipal bureaucrats. They claim to be checking vendor licences but they’re just making the rounds collecting protection money from the vendors. Pocketing bribes and payoffs is the municipal authorities idea of good government. They are skilled at using the power of their office to extort tribute from the working poor.

Bouazizi made the mistake of making eye contact with Madame Hamdi. As the municipal authority in charge of vendors and taxis Madame Hamdi held sway over the lives of the street vendors. She relished the power she had over the men who make a meager living selling goods in the square; and this morning she was moving through the market like a bloodhound hot on the trail of an escaped convict. Two burly henchmen lead the way before her. Bouazizi knew Madame Hamdi’s hounds were coming for him.

Bouazizi knew he was ******. Having just made a payment to his money lender, Bouazizi had no extra dinars to grease the palm of Madame Hamdi. He grabbed the handle bars of his cart to make an escape; but Madame Hamdi cut him off and got right into into Bouazizi’s face.

“Ah little Basboosa where are you going? she asked with the tone of playful contempt.

“I suppose you still have no license to sell, ah Basboosa?” Madame Hamdi questioned with the air of a soulless inquisitor.

“You know Madame Hamdi, cart vendors do not need a license.” Bouazizi feebly protested, not daring to look into her eyes.

“Basboosa, you know we can overlook your violations with a small fine for your laxity” a dismissive Madame Hamdi offered.

Bouazizi’s sense of guilt would not permit him to lift his eyes. His head remained bowed. Bouazizi stood convicted of being one of the impoverished.

“I have no spare dinars to offer Madame Hamdi, My pockets are empty, full of holes. My money falls into everyone’s palm but my own. I’m sorry Madame Hamdi. I’ll take my cart home”. He lifted the handlebars in an attempt to escape. One of Madame Hamdi’s henchmen stepped in front of his cart while the other pushed Bouazizi away from it.

“Either you pay me a vendor tax for a license or I will confiscate your goods Basboosa”, Madame Hamdi warned as she lifted Bouazizi’s scale off its hook.

“This will be the first to go”, she said grinning as she examined the scale. “We’ll just keep this.”
Like a mother lion protecting a defenseless cub from the snapping jaws of a pack of ravenous hyenas, Bouazizi lunged to retrieve his prized scale from the clutches of Madame Hamdi. Reaching for it, he touched the scale with his fingertips just as Madame Hamdi delivered a vicious slap to Bouazizi’s cheek. It halted him like a thunderbolt from Zeus.

A henchman overturned Bouazizi’s cart, scatter
Three years ago today Muhammad Bouazizi set himself on fire igniting the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia sparking the Arab Spring Uprisings of 2011.
Jade Mar 2019
I’m really scared
Im loosing it
My fragile mind
Slowly bruising it
I think too much
Overusing it
it’s my fault
But I keep doing it
Smoke Scribe Aug 2018
Imagine that
I could write a salve,
compose an ointment of verbal herbs to heal,
even mere protect the already-torn-so-easy mental flesh,
just to disguise/hide the multi-colored bruising our
fickle mistress-in-common provides when you are down so far
another bruise joining the cast like a  floodplain subsuming one more feeding creek bed into the shapelessness of indistinguishability

imagine that

where atoms hide eternal between creation and destruction,
borrow brief the set exact you require to restore the taken years
from fathers/mothers/brothers/sisters,
children,
return that which went unused by the uninvited, unseemly human whim of war and lies for no gain

imagine that

the deep sinkhole of despair that ***** one in, years in the formation, appearing in instance, and worse does not drowns but leaves helpless, unable to climb out, and all our scratching digs us in deeper until we cannot be, seen or heard or just be

imagine that

a check comes in the mail, payable left open for filling-in,
in the amount of full restoration, with no additional fees of guilt needed for deposit and cashing/caching out: and you wake up
and the stony chest is breathing lungs free

imagine that

and I do; for I am the smoke of return and rest, sky inscribing,
knowing precise needs and the screams and the years unfair taken,
they are screened through the five perceptions, and the word weaver
sets the loom for each peculiar requisition, no imagination needed

imagine that

you lament and anger demand verifiable proofs mathematical,
cursing the knights of false hopes with untethered regret

I do not imagine that; hear it and accept; my task, imagine that, making you imagine that, thus commencement of repair begins
when

we imagine that

for this how new healthy cells  are born

quiet-now,  go, imagine-that, now
if you recognize yourself within, it is no accident!
thank u all for the love and appreciation. one writes many poems in many disguises, so it is hard to believe  that an 8 month old poem, sent to you for safekeeping, is shortly thereafter barely recalled.
and then is rebirthed, and wouldn’t change a word...
imagine that!
Eleanor Rigby Oct 2014
Wooden hands
Bruising random shapes
On my bare thighs.
Wooden hands
Leaving me covered
In rainbow lies.

And when wooden hands
Cross my mind,
They come in the form
Of sunshine.


F.Z.N
Chloe Jul 2015
Tell me you love me,
As you gaze into my eyes,
Leaving kisses for all to see,
In violet, yellow and cerise.

Show me your fiery passion,
As you scream out my name,
Expletives a mere expression,
Of feelings that drive you insane.

Make me feel your adoration,
With your bruising touch,
With the heart of a nation,
To make me love you as such.
Unrequited love is a sad yet beautiful thing...
CA Guilfoyle Dec 2016
Now these clouds
the cold mean greys
sideways rain, the north lands I remember
the drowning choke of smoke and fire
traveling the dark road to your home
the black and spark of stars
we watched through the night
before the killing dawn
before the foggy cold that held us down
the clinch and grasp a slow stinging wasp
gone the fragrant hum of bees
the honey meadow petals.

Only a fleeting summer - we gathered
now swallowed in the autumn thunder
the bruising cold of November.
The sky crackles and I feel the most alone.

Just like that day in the woods.

My special place was off the trail, but he couldn't have known me,

I was so young and such an idiot,

Not everyone is genuine but I was so trusting,

I can still smell the sickening mixture of fresh-fallen rain,his sweat, the mud around the creek and salt from my tears.

With every atmospheric collision from the sky
my stomach churns tasting the blood in my mouth from his fist thundering against my tear stained cheeks.

When the wind blows  
I can still feel his callous hands bruising and exploring my unwilling body, and scraping against
the most intimate parts of me.

The lightning is when I remember the rock that found my desperate palms and crashing against his temple

The wind howls and the rain finally starts to fall then, near my belly button burns just like it did when the blade he swung wildly cut me before I could run and the water is my heartbeat pounding  in my ears,
but I can hear him behind me
The rush If my blood reminding me I’m still alive mind begging me to stay that way, his threats pushing me further

Head pounding ,body burning,
I burst through my front door

And then I start to cry
Rain storms are actually very hard for me to get through due to some other traumas but the storm that passed when I wrote this smelled like that day. Thunder really triggers me especially when I'm alone I used to cry in school when it thundered in the weeks after this incident but then I started to internalize it and I'd just be really quiet on those days. Trigger Warning, ****, molestation, violent attaked on a minor.
Ellen Joyce Jun 2013
And then you're sleeping -
purring kitten curled in pink DMs
all crumpled kisses and angel hair
caught in a dream catcher web.

My heart rests from braying helpless fury against my ribs
from bruising sinew and self
pouring frustration through my veins
in the ache of wanting to make it better.

I'm tracing history, yours and mine in the contours of your face.
Ballerina fingers shimmer in the laugh lines that are you.
My breath bowing to scars of battles that made you,
head cocked in awe of the woman you are.

my heart whispers a familiar promise - together.
For my best friend and soul mate Rachel whose friendship and sisterhood brings joy to my life, light to my dark times and most beautiful companionship to my journey.
Alyssa Underwood Jul 2016
child of heart
but not of womb,
would i'd been
gifted to ban the
hope-thieving,
spirit-throwing
parasitic lies,
to shelter ears
& fragile petals
against bruising,
whiskey-glazed
acts and words.
would i might be
gifted now to
soothe, cradling
tender soul through
deadest night's
watery gloom.
yet firmly i know
none other will ever
be gifted to bestow
what only One balm
can perfectly renew,
and He waits for you,
my beautiful girl.
Megan Feb 2018
My therapist used to say that
I get the flashbacks because
I don't talk about it enough.

But how am I supposed to talk about it
when everyone tells me that my story has been made invalid
by the alcohol in my bloodstream,
and the fact that I laughed about it the next day?

We all have different ways to survive.

How was I supposed to process my emotions the morning after
when I had blood dripping down my legs,
standing in the 6am cold,
because shivering outside without a jacket
was far better than staying in a room with one of my rapists,
and the lingering smell of shame?

I am far too young to feel a pain like this.

A pain so heavy that my entire soul is flattened
by the weight I carry around.

A violation so evil
that I cannot help but leave my body -
it is no longer mine
but a vessel
that carries the blackness of my ache,
my thoughts that turn to ash when I try to say them out loud
and the demons that have possessed me.

Demons born from the three of you.

How can I continue
when I can still feel three pairs of unwanted hands,
      gripping,                                           ­         
hitting,                                        
bruising me                    
all at once?

How can I breathe
when I can still feel six eyes
on the most intimate parts of me,
every vulnerability and weakness?

How can I live
when I still have pieces of you
entangling yourselves around my bones,
suffocating my heart?

I thought that by burying it all deep into myself -
every 'it' that you called me,
every bruise left on my skin,
every single ****** that tore me apart -
encased by my ribcage,
wrapped in skin that you made into paper,
I would be able to carry on.

I created my very own Pandora's box.

But you escaped;
every millilitre of your venom
is combined and coursing through my veins,
poisoning each one of my nerve endings.

I no longer see the same version of myself,
like looking in a broken mirror,
each fragment showing a different flaw, a different shame.
I am not me.

I am full of darkness.
My mind is sick,
I am filled to the brim with hate and anger and inescapable sadness.
You made me into a monster
that leaves fingerprints of acid on everything I touch.

Is there anything worse
than seeing six vitriolic eyes
everywhere I go?

Is there anything worse
than your visits to me when I sleep,
waking up drenched in sweat because of the horror?

Is there anything worse
than feeling a constant lump of anxiety in my throat,
whenever I'm left alone? -
because please
please
please don't feed me to the wolves again!

Is there anything worse
than starving myself because
no-one will ever love me unless I'm thin because
I'm too riddled with trauma?

Is there anything worse
than blaming myself so much
that I started hurting myself again?

No-one ever tells you that trauma lasts forever,
but I'm learning that now.
Because it's been ten months and twenty-two days since
the three of you destroyed me...

And you've been destroying me every day since.
If you've read this to the end, THIS is the destruction caused by **** - stop injustice anywhere you can
K Mae Apr 2013
He goes to sleep early
just drops and goes where
I have still hours to unwind
to calm the waves of the day
wrestle issues into confinement
sound proof cells locked
against unguarded sleep
where at last I fall
too deep to feel the pounding
wondering in the morning
how the bruising bloomed
Amber Evans Aug 2018
“When those menthol’s inhabit the deepest parts of my tarnished lungs, I faintly remember the way you first positioned your hand across my thigh. Innocence was nowhere to be found in this moment. Instead, your eyes grew wide; crystallized and chivalrous. You spoke with knowledge of this whirling world, for there will always be certainties: bats will swoop for the moth in the midst of the night, the eyes of the villain may deceive you, purity doesn’t always mean superiority, and most importantly, the shaking of your hand won’t stop once you’ve reached the filter.”
– Engulfed in You: part 1


“The shards of glass from my past still cut me every now and again. I don’t want to bleed all over you; all over us, so I bandage myself up. Over and over. It’s a never-ending wound that I can’t seem to stitch. The ache eases when your breath enters me. I think I’m in love with you.”
– Engulfed in You: part 2


“Maybe love isn’t the word. It isn’t savory on my taste buds. Love doesn’t fill the corners of my mouth with delicacy, nor aggression. It doesn’t satisfy every inch of me. I don’t wish to be in ambiguity with you. I want certainty. I want words to fill me up and pour out of my mouth like they have overstayed their welcome. I want to feel tranquil when you lie next to me. I crave chaos. I want your hands to grab harder once they’ve discovered the bruising. Lingering lascivious for one another. Maybe love is too small for how big I truly feel.”
– Engulfed in You: part 3


“Vibrations violate my ears. The sincerity of the chords blend perfectly. They mix up like an old recipe inside my head. Isolation sets in once your locked eyes drift away as the hours flow past us. Blistering hands strike the door. The pounding never stops. It’s a continuous knocking of a door; a continuous knocking of the heartbeat. You never stopped plucking the strings on your acoustic; the design haunts me. The dove stares into my uncertain eyes: striking and radiant. It’s everything I wish I could be for you, but I’m not the perfect melody. I don’t soar. I cannot rest. I’m the crash of a shattering liquor bottle that slices your foot the next morning.”
– Engulfed in You: part 4


“The twinges of pain don’t occur as often when you’re around.”
– Engulfed in You: part 5


“I love the taste of your fingers down my throat. Throbbing heart; don’t slow down. My eyes are half-open but I can see you perfectly in this dim-lit room. Calculated movements come my way with short breaths. I’m never as vulnerable as I am when I’m begging for you.”
– Engulfed in You: part 6
an all in row
took place
the boys were
casting peppery mace
in each others face
Mrs Dunstan saw the boys
employing their barbing toys
she told them not to be held hostage
to such disagreeable ploys
after they spent
some time
in the time out zone
they came to realize
that rowing
only brings
bruising to the bones
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Mark the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spelling words
Armed for slaughter.
The rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A river sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more.
Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I
And the tree and stone were one.
Before cynicism was a ****** sear across your brow
And when you yet knew you still knew nothing.
The river sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing river and the wise rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew,
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek,
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the tree.
Today, the first and last of every tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the river.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the river.
Each of you, descendant of some passed on
Traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name,
You Pawnee, Apache and Seneca,
You Cherokee Nation, who rested with me,
Then forced on ****** feet,
Left me to the employment of other seekers--
Desperate for gain, starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot...
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru,
Bought, sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the tree planted by the river,
Which will not be moved.
I, the rock, I the river, I the tree
I am yours--your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage,
Need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me,
The rock, the river, the tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes,
Into your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.
lily Jan 2015
your mouth is several degrees hotter than mine
and the heat was delicious
you devoured me with your lips, teeth, and tongue
it was a bruising kiss that i returned with equal intensity
our lips in an act of passion and possession
Ant Feb 2015
knowing it was time to look forward
braving a future without you
preparing for each painful step
moving on is all thats left to do
with swollen eyes I could just see its shine
that bruising guiding light
representing a new painful journey
but with a bright future in sight
BeautyinChaos Mar 2018
You held me in place with that commanding look
writhing under your gaze
unable to look away from the piercing sight
and afraid to disobey any order

If it was uttered from your lips
my heart would have soared, stretched, and broken
to be praised by your words
or tenderly touched with your rough hands

I could feel your hand on my neck
squeezing slowly until the blood started pounding
my pain was your pleasure
and your pleasure was my purpose

Little did I know that you would be squeezing too strongly
the ropes were too tight around my waist
the collar choking my neck
no amount of clawing would have made you let go
so I went limp with my love

A submissive gives trust
yields to whoever they believe is worthy
submitting more than their body
but their very essence

A dominant is supposed to wield that trust
to protect and realize the significance of it
not squeeze and suffocate it
pretending that lies warrant trust in return

I could not have been enough for your demands
and you broke the trust I gingerly placed in your hands
Take your bonds and pretend to wrap them around someone else
my being can take no more of your bruising
Sarina May 2013
There was nothing I was ever so ashamed of
that I dumped it in a river to drown,
but one time my best friend accidentally tossed my pink fishing pole
into the bayou when a spider dangled from the line.

We were eight, everything was wishy-washy
because she called herself a mulatto like it were an insult
and my older friends kept mentioning that my mom walked herself

to a liquor store very late at night
twelve-packs bruising her German-colored shoulder.
I did not tell them my father had hidden away her car keys.

Girls teased me and I still wanted to kiss their cheeks at goodbyes,
The Little Mermaid featured at our sleepovers
saying, “kiss the girl,” so I did
but we stopped talking when I bought my training bra,
it proved what was in my skirt, my lips could not touch them again.

You cannot kiss a girl if you are a girl,
even if Disney movies say it is okay because Mickie Mouse
has no ***** to be ashamed of though a wife of the opposite ***.

I learned important things until I turned ten
and Hurricane Katrina unraveled the bayou into my house
and I existed in four different classrooms in my fourth grade year
where nobody had enough time
to learn my name, much less the way it is spelled.

Now, in therapy, the certified insists
that I am a girl who kisses other girls because my mother
only put her lips on a bottle.

But maybe I wear striped dresses just because mold grew that
shape in my home on Camellia Street,
mud decorated the fallen refrigerator so it looked like
a cow some punk tipped over.
I just wish the sidewalk I use to rollerblade on hadn’t flooded.
Danielle Shorr Mar 2015
Woman is a title that comes with too many consequences shoved into the spaces between each letter. I have worn it proudly, not fully understanding the heaviness it carries, or exactly what it means. I still don’t.

Summer camp teaches me how to shave my legs when my mother neglects to. I am eleven, with hair on my skin barely long enough to pull out when my bunkmates coach me on how to erase it. "Boys don't like girls with prickly bodies," my counselor tells me confidently. I soon understand that to be woman means to be bare, stripped, and clean, always. Being woman means catching the changes of your morphing body before anyone else can point them out.

I am raised to keep secrets. We call the parts of ourselves that we aren't supposed to talk about private. I learn to be silent in more ways than one.


Haley is my best friend. Together we uncover the mystery of womanhood untold. She loves a boy two years older than us and gives herself to him in his parked car outside her house during one of our many sleepovers. I listen as she confesses the details to my eager ears. We learn more about *** from each other than we do health class.  The information given out is too much and not enough at the same time. We are taught enough to do it, but not enough to ease our unknowingness.

Condoms are given out for free. Tampons are not.

Virginity was a concept we were told to maintain from early on. At 14 I want to get losing it over with so I do, with a boy two years older, in between his childhood sheets. I am high enough to blur the details, but not high enough to forget it happens.

I learn how to cauterize undesirable memory with substance, the way too many women do.

When a sophomore girl comes to school with a broken face, everyone is quiet. We all know about the fight, the pushing down the stairs, the bruising that swelled violently like her love for him. "I think he's even hotter now," I overhear someone say.

The first boy I ever love treats me like ****. I let him because that's how it works in the movies.

I love a straight girl with curly brown hair and a smile too much like summer. She kisses me and then tells me about whatever boy she is pursuing that week. It confuses me to no end.

Mia meets her first love when we are 17 and gives him all of her too soon. When he dumps her, I come over ready with a box of popsicles in hand.

We play with Polly Pockets well into our teenage years. The dolls live out dreams impossible for us to reach.

I realize vulnerability is not an option, but something we are born wearing.

A friend shows me how to keep my keys peeking through my knuckles at night. I hold them through scared fingers as I navigate the side streets necessary to get home.

Mom buys me glitter covered pepper spray, "because it's cute." I know her unsaid words and what she really means. "There are too many bad people in the world to not be cautious, you can never be too careful."

When a girl I don't know well is attacked in a back alley by strangers, we sit nervously the couch and talk about the terrifying reality, how bad we feel for her, and how awful it must be to go through something like that.

I call my best guy friend immediately after someone I know takes my body without permission. I explain the details to him of what happened, still shaking from the shock of it. I wait for his response, hoping for open arms ready to hold while I shatter. He sighs and says, "you should have been more careful." I don't counter. I shower three times in a row, tuck myself into the same bed where it happened, and pick up the cracked pieces of myself in the morning. I tell no one else after that.

**** is the punch line to too many jokes.
I don’t laugh.

In an anonymous thread, I read as people discuss the topic of ****** assault. My eyes lose count of how many times strangers say, "just because you regret it, doesn't mean it is ****." I have seen doubt ******* too many faces hearing the stories of survivors with dull eyes from telling theirs over and over again to people who will never believe them. Their truth is taken with a shot of uncertainty.
They ask, "Why survivor? Why not victim?"
They say, “It doesn’t **** you, you’re not a survivor.”
I want to answer that survival is a choice made in the aftermath of destruction, that we either chew our way through the broken glass or swallow it whole, letting it break us from the inside out. I want to say survival is not as simple as we didn’t die. Survival is consciously refusing not to.
Instead I say nothing.

I know girls with too many piercings and tattoos because they had run out of room on their small bodies to let out any more anger. I watch darkness fill their skin with its reminder, young girls who know pain all too well.

A man on the street calls out to me. I shake my head quietly because I'm afraid of the bomb my response could set off. I have seen too many ticking men explode for me to want to fight back.

I learn about abortion when I am too young to understand it, too self-centered at the time to try to imagine the fear of unwanted growing inside of her. I have grown to understand the importance of choice.

A guy tells me that if a woman has *** with more than five guys in her lifetime, she's a *****.

Someone I hook up with shares with me about how his friends audio record their girlfriends during ***. He laughs, I shudder.

"Guys don’t like it when.."  is a tip I hear almost daily.  

School dress codes mark my shoulders unholy, my shorts too miniscule. I am sent to the principal's office in 10th grade when I refuse to change into a top that doesn't show my lower back. I ask what my body did to have to learn this kind of shame. I am suspended for the rest of the day.

Beauty pageants teach me that perfect woman is exactly what I am not.

My ex boyfriend calls me a ****.

My other ex boyfriend calls me crazy. I’ve learned that crazy is synonymous with “she had an opinion that did not align with mine.”

In my college lecture we talk about the origins of hysteria, remembering how women in history had their voices twisted into insanity. I think about how often “calm down” is used as a modern-day-tranquilizer.

Us weekly tells me every week, in one too many advertisements, how to lose weight.

My campus paper posts an ad for breast augmentation deals. "Get spring break ready."

The size of my chest is too much a reflection of my brain’s capacity.

Being woman means too much in a language I do not fully understand. It is skin and bones, it is raw and blood, it is a mouth filled with words unsaid, it is fear and worry, it is an unspoken connection between us all, it is 75 cents to a dollar, less for those of color, it is censored body, it is *******, it is being too much to handle, it is being equated with less, it is we are the same but we are not treated so, it is we are human in a world we call man’s, it is we have been struggling under the waves for centuries, it is not drowning, it is still swimming, always
LDuler Mar 2013
The leeching color from my eyes
My parched mouth puckered
My joints are stiff, stubborn and brittle
Creaking like exhausted floorboards
Wringing my fists, white ands shriveled
Twisting my hands, skinned and raw
I'm ill with desperate thriving
Too weak to carry on, don't have the choice
Veins laden with liqueur, thinning hopes and regret
Pulsing pulsing pulsing
Bones fluttering with birds of bad omen
Scalp rid of hair to make place for the thorny crown of vanquishment
Blood diluted with bitter disappointment,
Sloshing, smearing through my mucked-up system
Aching from the deadly drone of existence
From small victories, large defeats
I'm the mortar, they're the pestle
Clobbering into my hollowed life.

The hammer of that thing
Routine so dull and tedious
Pounding and pounding and pounding
When you can't even scream or weep
Thud thud thud
My temples scream with dank submission
My brain is reeling, hurling from the vertigo of it all.

Morning, noon & night
The dead avenues, the empty buzzing
Beats hammers in my brain
Throb throb throb
I'm quivering with numbness.

I'm mature now, I'm ripe
So ripened and rotten
Adult things, adult preoccupations pulsing around me
It seems like person really only has two choices
Get in on the aimless hustle or be forsaken
I've taken it all up
Rent, coffee, wine, cigarettes and newspaper
Forgotten pills
Unpaid bills
Thump thump thump
Anguish, pain, woe and misery
Turbulence and stress, the banging hammer.

I'm a drunkard, a wanderer
With a beaten, battered suitcase
Days like these, weeks like these, when all the weapons are pointed at me
I'm a ***, an outcast
A pigeon in the pummeling rain
Dribble dribble splash
The ache is a relentless thing.

My job, my rent, my house
My walls limp with memories stuck with rotting glue
Wallpaper torn, curling at the edges
The cold hard floor radiates and screams
The couch, cold & hollow
Incrusted with bits of filthy grime
The dead radiator hisses like an angry snake
The shades down, no sunlight
No life seeping through the venetian blinds
And my clothing sits in the chairs
Like the dead emptied out
The blankets are thin, frayed and tattered
As hope is
The moths, on the other hand, are alive and well
They weave webs of moribund rot
Interlacing me into their strands of decay.

Surrounded by the coldhearted, they snarl
And their laughs abash, dishearten the pure
Bruising me relentlessly
They are so tired, mutilated
either by love or no love
All their bleak and sunken eyes
All their weak and drunken souls
All their meek and shrunken hearts
Vultures with neckties
Weasels in frocks
Collared beasts, that's all they are.

The mournful poet with the shrapnel wound
Was so wrong
I guess he wanted to be lyrical, but his words led astray
Time is not water
It does not flow easy, smooth and transparent
It drags you into dark alleys and batters the hell out of you
Punches you in the ribs, rips your skin,
Jerks you by your hair, stabs you, disfigures you
Leaves you crippled and broken, gasping for air.

Sweating in a rocker
Lanky skeleton hands clasped, praying- for what?
I'm not living, or dying
I'm simply crawling backward
Or no, I'm not crawling, I'm being dragged,
Through nights of lonely perfidy, breathing the beaten dusty air
The dark wind wailing, ebbing through the frail curtains
Laying in bed, too wretched to move
When memories, of heaven and hell,
Droop like broken shades
Across the window of my mind
And ****, I can feel my soul slowly dropping down through the mattress
My stomach is heaving, my teeth clenched and gritted
But not with fear, no, it's too late for dread
And it *****, because we realize we were all so caught up in a life in which we can find no meaning...we end up wrong and graceless and sick
We're born shriveled and alone, we die shriveled and alone
No matter what.
The Hammer by Geneviève Pardoe Macchiarella is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
zebra Mar 2019
I'm writing this poem to be ignored

like many of you
I enjoy being a poet
of keen irrelevance

a literary luminaire
of solitude
a lost writing ghost
a megalomaniac haunting himself
a waiting oracle
waiting
for the occult muse door mouse to tap dance
whispering night  babble
or having a cooked chicken fly into my mouth
while i take searing snapshots
of erratic images
puzzling them into words
from boundless burdens
of heaping intestinal bluesy aftermaths exodus of conscience  
bruising my self like a ******* in heat
on out of control run-on rants
and blood razor drenched mysticism

while real men drive earth movers
drink bruskies
and kick ***
hustling time share Chinese handcuff contracts
and up sell social justice platitudes
fit for pie in the sky levitating hysteria
lives shatter like red ice
in endless cacophonies of skull clobbering effacement

I'm writing this poem to be ignored
and no one lets me down
Microbees Mar 2021
𝘐 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘳𝘶𝘪𝘴𝘦 𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯 𝘮𝘺 𝘭𝘦𝘨
𝘗𝘶𝘳𝘱𝘭𝘦, 𝘣𝘭𝘶𝘦, 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦 𝘥𝘰𝘵𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘳𝘦𝘥
𝘞𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘥𝘪𝘥 𝘐 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘺 𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘵 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦
𝘈 𝘴𝘶𝘥𝘥𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘢𝘤𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘴

𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘥𝘰 𝘣𝘳𝘶𝘪𝘴𝘦𝘴 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘥𝘰?
𝘈𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘥𝘰 𝘪𝘴 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶
“𝘏𝘦𝘺 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘵𝘰𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦, 𝘪𝘵’𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘱𝘢𝘪𝘯”
𝘌𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘣𝘳𝘶𝘪𝘴𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘨𝘰 𝘢𝘸𝘢𝘺

𝘚𝘰 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘸𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘳𝘶𝘪𝘴𝘦 𝘰𝘯 𝘮𝘺 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘵
𝘐𝘵𝘴 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘥 𝘮𝘺 𝘷𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘴, 𝘮𝘺 𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘩 𝘧𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵
𝘐 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩 𝘣𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘮𝘺 𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘵
𝘞𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩 𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘶𝘵𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘴, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘵 𝘴𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘴

𝘔𝘺 𝘭𝘶𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘴𝘰 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘥, 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘥𝘰 𝘐 𝘣𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘦?
𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘴 𝘬𝘦𝘦𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘬𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘦
𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘳𝘶𝘪𝘴𝘦 𝘪𝘴𝘯’𝘵 𝘧𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘴𝘰𝘰𝘯
𝘐𝘮 𝘸𝘦𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘥𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘣𝘺 𝘴𝘢𝘥𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴, 𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘨𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘮

𝘈𝘴 𝘐 𝘥𝘳𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘺 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘴 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘣𝘦𝘢𝘵
𝘐 𝘸𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘮𝘺 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘐 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘷𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨?
𝘈𝘭𝘭 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘸𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦 𝘐’𝘮 𝘧𝘢𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨
𝘊𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘋𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘩 : 𝘐𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘉𝘳𝘶𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨
Gerry Sikazwe Apr 2021
Promises are evil
Mouths open awaiting
To be filled with blood
Sometimes bones
Other times hope
They make you sell
Another man for nickels
They make you
Bury life to avenge the dead
I despise them so
For they demand too much
Often bruising, often enslaving.
AD Snail May 2017
I have told everyone about those strange miss-matched shapes,
That litters my skin,
And tell a tale but I make sure their words are twisted.

No one needs to know the pathetic truth,
The little tale, that repeats back to me, "Your unwell."
That's fine by me; as long as it doesn't come from someone else.

I am still incomplete; still not well enough to look myself in the mirror.
Lacking the focus, to understand that I should be disappointed.

I have tattered the skin upon my body with purple and blue.

This dotted bruising I should feel ashamed of,
But I can never convince myself to stop or be disappointment.

The gently miss-match, unhealthy color to the tone of my skin,
Tells the tale's of my self-hatred and rage,
And all the unwell thoughts that dance around my mind.
Hana Gabrielle Oct 2012
Less than content with
the content you're left with
corrupted
with eroded shoulders
worn down by
the weight of your potential

don't believe in fate
if god decides to show its face
**** on your words
here that bitter regret
bruising

test the limits
of your passion
of your trust
one is daunting
the other claustrophobic
to be caged so tightly by anxiety

tortured by the thought of imperfection
Tessa F Jun 2015
This recovery is like a bruising.
My depression didn't quite pierce the surface and **** me,
But still I bleed on the inside
With the damage contained but still visible.
First my recovery was red and swollen,
A tender lump raised from battle
Still too wounded to accept the name "recovery."
But as red became purple
And my blues began to set in,
I leaked back into myself
Now a flood rather than a mountain
My depression slowly beginning to drown.
Green felt like a turning point,
New growth that didn't hurt as much when I poked it
(When my depression poked it.)
The flood seems to have run its course now,
Replaced by yellows and finally browns
As this burnt battlefield turned into new soil that settled back down again.
Recovery is slow, painful, and has many shades
However, our need for it is as consistent as a bruise,
And just as dependable to come to an end with time.
The handcuff bites my wrist
as teeth sink, searing flesh.
A breath, a scent too familiar to forget.
Blind.
Massive palms, razor point
carving canyons down my spine,
blood is the wine.
The burn of beard
feigning consent.
Fistfuls of hair conquering words.
A corpse to rob me of life,
the press of perversity against satin.
Fighting, writhing
satisfaction.
Pain swells in every limb
the wet swell reveal my sin.
Slaps stinging awake
every fiber of clothing still keeping me safe.
The drive of possession
splitting secrets wide,
fingers around throat clenching tight.
Sweat running red,
the rising growls growls resonate in my head.
The raw force bruising
like claiming a slave,
body & mind consuming.
Ferocity leads to frenzy,
my senses rage against me,
The thickness rips,
devours,
conquers my body for paradise.
And I scream in the ecstasy taken.
A clenching incites eruptions,
the pulsing beast flooding.
My purpose awakened.
CZ Sep 2013
You aren't going to **** yourself tonight because, in one of the

spun sugar fragile sequences of the events in your life, it works

out. There is a place, somewhere amidst star stuff and cosmic

collisions, where you are not the problem daughter or the

biggest disappointment or the most regretted kiss. There is a

place where you sink into a desk in your eight a.m. class and

a boy with bags under his eyes and a hole-y sweater pulled

over his knuckles says, "hi." There is a place where your father

comes back from the war with sand grit in his eyes, blood

under his fingernails and lets you save him.  There is a place

where you live in India, where you aren't afraid to love, where

everything hurts less, where you stopped punishing yourself for

the faults of your parents. You are a girl. Not a dart board or a guilty

verdict or the final, desperate ****** of a sword through

someone's chest. You are made of the same stuff as Marie

Antoinette and Catherine the Great and Elizabeth, and you

can command the winds too. You aren't going to **** yourself

tonight because no one ever asked you about the scars on your

thighs but that doesn't make them nonexistent or unimportant.

You aren't going to **** yourself tonight because you've grown:

stronger in some ways and weaker in others, but you are still

a result of rhapsodies in violet and trees bowed to the sea

and soldiers with wind burn on their cheeks. Tonight, you are

going to wrap your own arms around your own chest and

breathe, swaying silently to no music. You are going to

memorize the sound of silence, and you are going to listen hard

for the even, jagged, pitter patter of your heart. You are going

to thank your body for waging war against itself, you are going

to apologize to your head for bruising your heart. You are going

to feel the roughness of the floor and the vastness of the entire

world and all of the eventualities spread before you. You are

going to remember that this is only one, that atoms and

molecules are flighty, whimsical, prone to selfishness and

longing for the promise of stability. You are going to press your

lips to your own wrists and know, as surely as Anne Boleyn

knew when she walked to the guillotine, that no one can save

you but yourself. You aren't going to **** yourself tonight

because you are not an accident of the multiverse. You are

purposeful and beautiful and young and reckless with your

feelings, but you are not a mistake. Listen to the trembling

of your heartbeat and breathe. You aren't going to **** yourself

tonight.
Mateuš Conrad Jul 2016
when i first found about will alexander, i immediately bought three of his books: kaleidoscopic omniscience, compression & purity, the sri lankan loxodrome - i saw the potential, rekindled surrealism - perhaps a second peacock on the stage, as in more peacock of vocabulary, rather than a peacock of historical quanta merging (E. Pound).

i really do distrust this division in what science speaks
and what poverty stricken humanism speaks of -
i distrust it because science sediments itself supposing
humanism the pauper - science and all its immediate solutions,
humanism and all its delayed problems -
the new priests look so innocent - but i'm bothered,
i don't understand their need for awe-on-purpose -
the old priests demanded kneeling and an agonising
penitence - not a concept of predestination, but
this sort of minority report: you've done nothing wrong,
but we'll assume you already have, better than a microchip
implant, the idea, we'll use that, pre everything
limit the pro of everything, and catch you in a fishnet of
omni, it was too much, all in one go, in defence it started
with a mediator impersonal, Cartesian later Spinoza's
substance - partly due to the omni-etc., a shortcut -
the easiest way out - sure, if i went to a progressive school
rather than a catholic school in an Irish neighbourhood of
far-beyond the East End locality, i might have written
you L.S.D. filled poems, instead i start off tipsy working my
way around vocabulary that's adequate - hushing out
all possible onomatopoeia static in crude tongue -
ridicule feeds the beast, ridicule my prime loathing -
criticism well and truly accepted... ridicule feeds the beast -
but i mean, this perpetuated awe of scientists,
modern philosophy anti-Aristotelian does not begin
with awe, but with a ridicule of it, a disgust -
when did humanism ever experience awe? a stranger's
kindness would be a start, but even then there's hardly
any awe in it - it soon fades, scientists have immersed themselves
as prophets of awe's preservation, one picks up
a stone and speaks of a mountain, one draws a circle and
howls out the moon - i don't know how they can fake their
awe with so many certainties - so many facts -
awe reminds me of my first bicycle lesson, attempting
balance, failing, bruising a knee, and awe when
the balance was mastered - very short-lived, then the
drudgery of re-, i distrust scientific awe, primarily because
we're slowly no longer stepping out into the unknown,
we're stopping into knows and denies - not many unknowns
out there - except as in the case of Iraq, and Donald Rumsfeld,
known knows and there are known unknowns -
now... that's awe... i don't know who was keeping check
on this, but that's more mesmerising that explaining
1,000 million years ago... in a nutshell... how long has
this pneumatic drill of Darwinism been pumping custard
into our brain? is this the part where you tell me we're experiencing
the Alaskan day in the summer months or Alaskan night
in the winter months? all this scientific awe-bashing
is no longer vogue, but they keep at it - oh amazing, ah,
stupefying - and all of it just becomes a regurgitation -
someone said in the 16th century that Aristotle was wrong,
the wrong in Aristotle is that he might have been wrong,
but he was still perplexed... we're no longer perplexed creatures,
not so much... well maybe a bit when it comes to social justice,
but it's not like: sigh and a tear in your eye... it's more like:
if a white boy was shot from a private school, the mothers
and fathers would come up to the police officers with guns
in their hands... you can see awe vanishing when the butterfly
feelings flutter away silently... it's now violent awe:
why is this still happening?! huh?! scientific awe is not
a cushion you can fall back on: we have ~100 years to live
(if you're lucky... or unlucky) and we're being told of life
in caves and trees - Darwinism has hijacked history, this is
where science in written form is like an atom bomb, it wipes
away the best part of humanism, that is: to make human
life itemised on the microscopic level - i don't care if you
go to church and **** out alms for the poor and put on
those ruby shoes and walk the yellow-brick road,
you can't relate to Judea 10 a.d. - not to save your life -
in that famous motto *carpe diem
- but strained it's not
so much seize the day, but... relate to the days and those
around you who share them: pertineo diebus - or something
like that, imagine, going to a Catholic school and they
don't even have the manners to teach you a bit of Latin slang,
travesty; but that's how it is, we're no longer awe-stricken
in what the scientists are selling us, fair-dos to
the medicine men, shampoo men, cologne men,
but the awe-invoking men are a bit n'ah-ah to me -
given the timescale for one -  i'm a simple man and i want
to enjoy my beer thinking about last Friday,
my life... not the collective origin of life, and whether
i was too hairy back then - you don't need theology to
argue this point, just a little bit of common sense self-respect,
last Friday, not 1,000 million years ago when there was
no Friday, no Sunday, no March, no human imprint -
no: i can touch it, i can feel it, i can see it... i want it.
just like in my dream today - it's rather strange that i dream,
i rarely do, but sometimes i remember one or two -
and all i can say is that - i had the best *** in my life
last night, asleep
- yeah, i was ******* in it -
but what bothers me is that it wasn't lucid in terms of
images, but sensations - i can thus say it wasn't completely
impotent in terms of colour, but then again it was -
i'm starting to believe that i'm a blind-man in my dreams,
i ~see sensations rather than actual images in reel -
i can remember leaning against a wall and moving my
tongue in her mouth and my middle-and-ring fingers
into the... what? cliche? anatomic? *****? you choose -
a strange parallelism - we can use the tongue for such
eloquent fragments, and yet reduce it to other atrocities
of equal eloquence - then the whole dream-world changed
and i felt sitting at the tipping point where the sea meets
the beach sands, sitting down awash the waves and her sitting
on me. it's what i felt, i didn't see anything vivid -
but the sensations presented themselves as such -
i associate that with delving into writing in my mother tongue -
email / diacritics "crossword" (un-ditto and apply a
non-misnomer, i.e. give it a proper name, cf. Aristotle)
.
to finish i guess i might as well write a short critique:
the over-burdening of man with nouns -
as in will alexander's index of the sri lankan...
a few examples: proxima centauri (nearest star to our sun),
hemiopia (loss of vision for one half of the binocular field),
dukkha (buddhist term for suffering),
nystagmus (involuntary jerky movements of the eye),
nosophobia (morbid dread of some particular disease),
telesto umbriel larissa (moons of saturn, uranus
and neptune, respectively),
karina (egyptian demonology, a familiar attached
to a child at birth),
pretas (ghosts) -                                  or as some people say
including Christian Guerrero - 'they're just words...'
oh yes, and words are not the cogs in the machine?
just words... just words?! a banker's bonus is just
an array of... just numbers... why is this nonchalance
to these fundamental units? first they teach us to read
and write an escape the sunny harvests of the fields,
the easy mental but demanding physical life -
after the demanding physical life went our supposed
"ease" mental life changed into a demanding mental
life and an easy physical life... that's the problem with
establishing a suitable vocabulary in yourself, you can
sometimes overdo it, meaning not many people will
understand it, globalisation didn't save us from
the babylon ambition rekindled (whether myth or whatever,
it doesn't matter, read a book literally and you'll end
up realising what could have possibly been mere myth)...
all the above cited words from the index, by god, impressive,
but why would i pain myself to use a word that i'd
have to write an index to? globalisation and words from
Iran - southern coastal to be exact home to afro-iranians -
but locally it's just a ******* shish kebab and nothing more -
or central scotoma (area of the retina that's blind) -
all this vocab wall building is amazing, it really is,
a fortress at Acre - admirable... but then a return to the dull
grey reality of everyday speech - the painful art of poetry
reduced to a personal involvement with certain words -
it's heart-breaking, well, not for me, for Will it must be,
but hey, bought three of his books, that must have counted
for a cheeseburger and a portion of fries at some point
in his life.
Alysia Marie Dec 2018
I’m sick
And I’m tired
I’m eating my words
As they dance on my tongue
Making me squirm as they turn
Oh I’m biting
I’m chewing
Simply swallowing my pride
For I can’t say how I feel
No matter how hard I’ve tried
For they pin me
They ***** me
Puncturing my mind
As I sit here and silence
Muted like a mime
I can’t say it
I fear it
The version that you’ll see
If I emit all of these feelings
My caged memories
For they haunt me
They taunt me
Like a stained porcelain tub
You can’t rid it of residue
No matter how hard you scrub
That’s my mind
They’re my eyes
Tinted a light shade of blue
As eroded as these beaches
I’m drowning from you
Your fingers
They’ve grabbed me
Now bruising my soul
How can one escape from your grasp-
I just long to feel whole
For it was physical
Now emotional
Unsure which one is worse
See these flashbacks you’ve gifted me
Were your most vicious curse


                               Alysia Marie 2018 ©
Perhaps one day these flashbacks will subside
Perhaps one day it’ll all end.
always anxious Sep 2014
Dear legs...
I'm sorry how i've alwYs complained about you not being long or straight enough.
Thank you for still carrying me even though i've hated you with such a passion.

Dear arms
I also wanna tell you sorry, for punching you when i got mad, and also for complain about you being too floppy.
Thank you for still helping me, do everything and for just being there, life would be a lot harder without you.

Dear ****
I'm sorry for all the times i've said you were ugly, you not being round, small or smooth enough.
Thank you for still going along and let me sit on you when i've been tired.

Dear stomach
Sorry for pinching and hitting you whever i was hungr, and sorry for never liking you beacuse you were floppy but i know it's just skin
And that's how you're suppossed to look.
Thank you for telling me when i'm hungry and keeping in all the food i eat, you work like a machine and that must be hard to do!

dear *****
Sorry for always thinking you were too small, i regret everything i've said you've grown nice and round, i'm sorry for complaining so tou had to hurry so much you got stretchmarks
Thank you, for grabbing so much attention, that id sort of funny.

Dear hips
I'm dorry for punching you and complaining avput you being too wide.
Thank you for giving me the hourglassshape every girl long for.

dear skin
I have so much to be sorry for..
I'm sorry for cutting you, and bruising you and burning you, i' so very sorry i have ruined you this much, i'm sorry for letting my emotions out on you, i have made you scarred and i'm sorry about that. Im sorry for also complaining how you were never clean enough
But thank you! For sticking along and holding my body together you're awesome

Dear face
I'm sorry for never liking you and being sad about my eyes not being deep blue or my nose not perfect
Though i thank you for
Letting my friends know who i am

Dear hair
I'm sorry i put you through a lot of heat and dying and all that but hey you're still on my head i bet i would look weird bald so thank you!

Dear body!
Last but not least
I wanna thank you for being so strong and beautifull i wanna thank you for holding on even though i put you through this much

*dear body... I'm sorry.. Thank you
Lynsey-Nova Mar 2013
hands in front
eyes cast down
legs spread wide
the time is now

bruising fingers
bite my thighs
laughing mouth
catch my cries

pain is good
pleasure rare
understood
yes sir I'm here

body used
broken soul
lost in you
loose all control

tied with
leather never lace
time stand still
in this place

bleeding I lie
and wait for more
hungry to please
hungry to score

******* please
******* more
******* leaves
me begging
more
more
more
JJ Hutton Sep 2011
The dried petals of a once green love
snake through the beige carpet--
along with potato chips,
along with icy *****,
along with grey ash of cheapshit incense,
my empire soles trample in after work.

Susan smiles and tries to reheat the leftovers.
Our bulging bellies match from a marriage of coping strategies,
stretch mark'd and daydreaming of
other seasons; sweat on foreign sheets,
other napes; Mediterranean baby's breath,
other scents; a choice between gardenia and gasoline,
Susan's a liar.
Of deceit--I've grown tired.

Newspaper, newspaper bring me a bullet.
Doorbell, doorbell bring me a blushing nomad in need of bruising.
Ringtone, ringtone bring me DHS and an actual Friday.

Susan tucks me in to the Lullaby of the Infomercial,
her fingernail seeps into my lower lip.
I roll onto my side.
Graff1980 Dec 2014
She gnawed at his flesh
She clawed at his skin
To fulfill her filthy sin
Violence
And rage
All this displayed
All of her hate
He wore on his face
And in the evening
After the bleeding
Pass the bruising
Red marks
He’d sniff and snuffle
His body would crumble
With all of the despair in his heart
He was told to remember
As his will was dismembered
And his spirits were crushed to the ground
This was all your own doing
Even though she was stewing
No fault of hers will ever be found
Linus Stevenson Jun 2018
Let me tell you a story
Listen and learn
There was a Shepherd, a good Shepherd
Kind and loving, courageous and strong
He had 100 sheep
and the sheep loved the Shepherd
And so when one sheep wandered
The good Shepherd left the 99
And went after the one

And you might think you know this story
But I'm afraid it's not what you think
Because I am not the one...

I am one of the 99 left behind
Waiting for the Sheppard to return
Trapped by the walls of this fence
The posts and wooden planks
That contain us
Being lead by the very sheep that are
We walk in circles around the pen
Around and around... circles
Eating up the food we have
We begin to eat each other
And as demented as that sounds
It's true
Biting and gnawing
Bleeding and bruising
We turn to other sheep for nourishment
For truth... for guidance
But we are sheep all the same
Another one of the 99 left behind

Sheep is what we are
Be careful not to tater your fur
Careful not to tear or cut
To show the underneath
The skin that doesn't flatter but
Burns with the red of your hate
Your pride... Your sin

When will the Sheppard return
And open the fence
Lead to new grass
and water

There are sheep I've never seen before
Black sheep.
have you seen black sheep?
Yes sheep with spots but these sheep
They are black from head to toe
Their snouts are long and
they have sharp teeth
Strange that they have not hooves but paws
Appearing as wolves wearing sheeps clothing
They are mending the fence
The fence! It's broken!
Suddenly we realize we are not safe
Quickly, grab your hammer and nails!
Let us work with these black sheep...
to mend... the fence... around... us

Who built this fence?
Was it the Sheppard?
Cloudy as my memories be of the man
with the scars in his hands and side
This does not resemble his work
Who... built... these... walls?
These bars... This cell
With no key and a steeple?
Oh God, who built these walls?
No it wasn't the sheppard.
The walls he built had doors
And windows to let the light in
No... We have built these walls
The 99 left behind were not left...
We left.

We left the fence! The pasture!
The place of love and safety.

We are not the 99 left behind but the one
We are the one who wandered and strayed
And seeing that we were in territory unsafe
We built walls without doors
that trapped us inside... in darkness

Sheppard,
Search
Find us
Break down
These walls
Rebuild them
With windows
To let the Light in
Manu M Jun 2015
Smiling, laughing, jumping
Beaming with extravagant light
He ran through the meadows hoping
That his father would take him to the wonder Park tonight

But his father couldn’t make it
Since he had a night shift
And little Jimmy couldn’t resist
His innocent tears from dripping

He tried hard to pull his tears in
But they shamelessly slipped
His mother patted his back asking him
To be a strong guy
As according to her and this Utopian world
“Boys don’t cry”

Young Jimmy walked with a sore eye to his house
After getting bullied by Big Barry Fry
His father asked him to man up and stop being a mouse
As according to him and many a folks alike
“Boys don’t cry”

He smashed the ball into the goal
Leading his team to victory
And flung into his father’s arms
Wishing to achieve his sympathy

Adolescent years passed by
Times came which made him want to cry
But he had to hide his tears
As according to this ideal world
“Boys don’t cry”

Time passed
His dreams did shatter ripping him apart
Devastation gripped him breaking his heart
But still he pulled his tears back
He had to try!
Because according to this flawless world
“Boys don’t cry”

The summer of ’59 brought him lady luck
But who knew, innocent Jimmy
Had turned into an evil schmuck
Bruising his wife to death
Gave him eternal peace and rest
Making up for all those moments
Which were supposed to be dry?
As now even according to him
“Boys don’t cry”

~Manu M.
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
Daredevil
by Michael R. Burch

There are days that I believe
(and nights that I deny)
love is not mutilation.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.

There are tightropes leaps bereave—
taut wires strumming high
brief songs, infatuations.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.

There were cannon shots’ soirees,
hearts barricaded, wise . . .
and then . . . annihilation.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.

There were nights our hearts conceived
untruths reborn as sighs.
To dream was our consolation.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.

There were acrobatic leaves
that tumbled down to lie
at our feet, bright trepidations.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.

There were hearts carved into trees—
tall stakes where you and I
left childhood’s salt libations . . .

Daredevil, dry your eyes.

Where once you scraped your knees;
love later bruised your thighs.
Death numbs all, our sedation.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.

Keywords/Tags: Daredevil, love, mutilation, tightrope, high, wire, acrobatic, tumble, bruised, fall, sedation, death, mrbdare, mrbch



Passionate One
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Love of my life,
light of my morning―
arise, brightly dawning,
for you are my sun.

Give me of heaven
both manna and leaven―
desirous Presence,
Passionate One.

My wife Beth has been a Daredevil for Love, sometimes engaging in high-wire acts that defied gravity. At times her acrobatic moves resulted in tumbles, falls, and bruises, but she never stopped loving her family and friends. Thus, the first two poems are related, although the woman in the first poem is imaginary.



In My House
by Michael R. Burch

When you were in my house
you were not free―
in chains bound.

Manifest Destiny?

I was wrong;
my plantation burned to the ground.
I was wrong.
This is my song,
this is my plea:
I was wrong.

When you are in my house,
now, I am not free.
I feel the song
hurling itself back at me.
We were wrong.
This is my history.

I feel my tongue
stilting accordingly.

We were wrong;
brother, forgive me.

Published by Black Medina. This is poem about a different kind of high-wire act, a different kind of tension, and a different kind of fall, bruising and mutilation. At the time I wrote this poem, I had hired two fine young black men as programmers and they had keys to my house, where I was the minority on work days.



Less Heroic Couplets: ****** Most Fowl!
by Michael R. Burch

“****** most foul!”
cried the mouse to the owl.

“Friend, I’m no sinner;
you’re merely my dinner!”
the wise owl replied
as the tasty snack died.

Originally published by Lighten Up Online and in Potcake Chapbook #7. In an attempt to demonstrate that not all couplets are heroic, I have created a series of poems called “Less Heroic Couplets.” I believe even poets should abide by truth-in-advertising laws! Mice are acrobatic little daredevils. ― MRB



Leaf Fall
by Michael R. Burch

Whatever winds encountered soon resolved
to swirling fragments, till chaotic heaps
of leaves lay pulsing by the backyard wall.
In lieu of rakes, our fingers sorted each
dry leaf into its place and built a high,
soft bastion against earth's gravitron―
a patchwork quilt, a trampoline, a bright
impediment to fling ourselves upon.

And nothing in our laughter as we fell
into those leaves was like the autumn's cry
of also falling. Nothing meant to die
could be so bright as we, so colorful―
clad in our plaids, oblivious to pain
we'd feel today, should we leaf-fall again.

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea. This is a poem about yet another kind of fall and the kind of bruising that increases with advancing age.



Herbsttag ("Autumn Day" or "Fall Day")
by Rainer Maria Rilke
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lord, it is time. Let the immense summer go.
Lay your long shadows over the sundials
and over the meadows, let the free winds blow.
Command the late fruits to fatten and shine;
O, grant them another Mediterranean hour!
Urge them to completion, and with power
convey final sweetness to the heavy wine.
Who has no house now, never will build one.
Who's alone now, shall continue alone;
he'll wake, read, write long letters to friends,
and pace the tree-lined pathways up and down,
restlessly, as autumn leaves drift and descend.

Originally published by Measure. This is one of my favorite Rilke poems, about the feelings of loneliness a fall day can inspire.



To the boy Elis
by Georg Trakl
translation by Michael R. Burch

Elis, when the blackbird cries from the black forest,
it announces your downfall.
Your lips sip the rock-spring's blue coolness.

Your brow sweats blood
recalling ancient myths
and dark interpretations of birds' flight.

Yet you enter the night with soft footfalls;
the ripe purple grapes hang suspended
as you wave your arms more beautifully in the blueness.

A thornbush crackles;
where now are your moonlike eyes?
How long, oh Elis, have you been dead?

A monk dips waxed fingers
into your body's hyacinth;
Our silence is a black abyss

from which sometimes a docile animal emerges
slowly lowering its heavy lids.
A black dew drips from your temples:

the lost gold of vanished stars.

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: I believe that in the second stanza the blood on Elis's forehead may be a reference to the apprehensive ****** sweat of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. If my interpretation is correct, Elis hears the blackbird's cries, anticipates the danger represented by a harbinger of death, but elects to continue rather than turn back. From what I have been able to gather, the color blue had a special significance for Georg Trakl: it symbolized longing and perhaps a longing for death. The colors blue, purple and black may represent a progression toward death in the poem.



I Loved You
by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin
translation by Michael R. Burch

I loved you ... perhaps I love you still ...
perhaps for a while such emotions may remain.
But please don’t let my feelings trouble you;
I do not wish to cause you further pain.

I loved you ... thus the hopelessness I knew ...
The jealousy, the diffidence, the pain
resulted in two hearts so wholly true
the gods might grant us leave to love again.



Wulf and Eadwacer
ancient Anglo-Saxon/Old English poem, circa 960 AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My clan's curs pursue him like crippled game;
they'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

Wulf's on one island; we're on another.
His island's a fortress, fastened by fens.
Here, bloodthirsty curs howl for carnage.
They'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

My heart pursued Wulf like a panting hound,
but whenever it rained—how I wept! —
the boldest cur grasped me in its paws:
good feelings for him, but for me loathsome!

Wulf, O, my Wulf, my ache for you
has made me sick; your seldom-comings
have left me famished, deprived of real meat.

Have you heard, Eadwacer? Watchdog!
A wolf has borne our wretched whelp to the woods!
One can easily sever what never was one:
our song together.



Hymn for Fallen Soldiers
by Michael R. Burch

Sound the awesome cannons.
Pin medals to each breast.
Attention, honor guard!
Give them a hero’s rest.

Recite their names to the heavens
Till the stars acknowledge their kin.
Then let the land they defended
Gather them in again.

When I learned there’s an American military organization, the DPAA (Defense/POW/MIA Accounting Agency) that is still finding and bringing home the bodies of soldiers who died serving their country in World War II, after blubbering like a baby, I managed to eke out this poem.



Attilâ İlhan (1925-2005) was a Turkish poet, translator, novelist, screenwriter, editor, journalist, essayist, reviewer, socialist and intellectual.

Ben Sana Mecburum: “You are indispensable”
by Attila Ilhan
translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

You are indispensable; how can you not know
that you’re like nails riveting my brain?
I see your eyes as ever-expanding dimensions.
You are indispensable; how can you not know
that I burn within, at the thought of you?

Trees prepare themselves for autumn;
can this city be our lost Istanbul?
Now clouds disintegrate in the darkness
as the street lights flicker
and the streets reek with rain.
You are indispensable, and yet you are absent ...

Love sometimes seems akin to terror:
a man tires suddenly at nightfall,
of living enslaved to the razor at his neck.
Sometimes he wrings his hands,
expunging other lives from his existence.
Sometimes whichever door he knocks
echoes back only heartache.

A screechy phonograph is playing in Fatih ...
a song about some Friday long ago.
I stop to listen from a vacant corner,
longing to bring you an untouched sky,
but time disintegrates in my hands.
Whatever I do, wherever I go,
you are indispensable, and yet you are absent ...

Are you the blue child of June?
Ah, no one knows you―no one knows!
Your deserted eyes are like distant freighters ...

Perhaps you are boarding in Yesilköy?
Are you drenched there, shivering with the rain
that leaves you blind, beset, broken,
with wind-disheveled hair?

Whenever I think of life
seated at the wolves’ table,
shameless, yet without soiling our hands ...
Yes, whenever I think of life,
I begin with your name, defying the silence,
and your secret tides surge within me
making this voyage inevitable.
You are indispensable; how can you not know?



Fragments
by Attila Ilhan
loose English translations/interpretations by Michael R. Burch



The night is a cloudy-feathered owl,
its quills like fine-spun glass.

It gazes out the window,
perched on my right shoulder,
its wings outspread and huge.

If the encroaching darkness seems devastating at first glance,
the sovereign of everything,
its reach infinite ...

Still somewhere within a kernel of light glows secretly
creating an enlightened forest of dialectics.



In September’s waning days one thinks wanly of the arrival of fall
like a ship appearing on the horizon with untrimmed, tattered sails;
for some unfathomable reason fall is the time to consider one’s own demise―
the body smothered by yellowed leaves like a corpse rotting in a ghoulish photograph ...



Bitter words
crack like whips
snapping across prison yards ...

Then there are words like pomegranate trees in bloom,
words like the sun igniting the sea beyond mountainous horizons,
flashing like mysterious knives ...

Such words are the burning roses of an infinite imagination;
they are born and they die with the flutterings of butterflies;
we carry those words in our hearts like pregnant shotguns until the day we expire,
martyred for the words we were prepared to die for ...



What I wrote and what you understood? Curious and curiouser!



escape!
by michael r. burch

to live among the daffodil folk . . .
slip down the rainslickened drainpipe . . .
suddenly pop out
the GARGANTUAN SPOUT . . .
minuscule as alice, shout
yippee-yi-yee!
in wee exultant glee
to be leaving behind the
LARGE
THREE-DENALI GARAGE.



Escape!!
by Michael R. Burch

You are too beautiful,
too innocent,
too inherently lovely
to merely reflect the sun’s splendor ...

too full of irresistible candor
to remain silent,
too delicately fawnlike
for a world so violent ...

Come, my beautiful Bambi
and I will protect you ...
but of course you have already been lured away
by the dew-laden roses ...



Dream of Infinity
by Michael R. Burch

Have you tasted the bitterness of tears of despair?
Have you watched the sun sink through such pale, balmless air
that your soul sought its shell like a crab on a beach,
then scuttled inside to be safe, out of reach?

Might I lift you tonight from earth’s wreckage and damage
on these waves gently rising to pay the moon homage?
Or better, perhaps, let me say that I, too,
have dreamed of infinity... windswept and blue.

This poem was originally published by TC Broadsheet Verses. I was paid a whopping $10, my first cash payment. It was subsequently published by Piedmont Literary Review, Penny Dreadful, the Net Poetry and Art Competition, Songs of Innocence, Poetry Life & Times, Better Than Starbucks and The Chained Muse.



Heat Lightening
by Michael R. Burch

Each night beneath the elms, we never knew
which lights beyond dark hills might stall, advance,
then lurch into strange headbeams tilted up
like searchlights seeking contact in the distance . . .

Quiescent unions . . . thoughts of bliss, of hope . . .
long-dreamt appearances of wished-on stars . . .
like childhood’s long-occluded, nebulous
slow drift of half-formed visions . . . slip and bra . . .

Wan moonlight traced your features, perilous,
in danger of extinction, should your hair
fall softly on my eyes, or should a kiss
cause them to close, or should my fingers dare

to leave off childhood for some new design
of whiter lace, of flesh incarnadine.



Winter Thoughts of Ann Rutledge

Ann Rutledge was apparently Abraham Lincoln’s first love interest. Unfortunately, she was engaged to another man when they met, then died with typhoid fever at age 22. According to a friend, Isaac Cogdal, when asked if he had loved her, Lincoln replied: “It is true―true indeed, I did. I loved the woman dearly and soundly: She was a handsome girl―would have made a good, loving wife … I did honestly and truly love the girl and think often, often of her now.”

Winter Thoughts of Ann Rutledge
by Michael R. Burch

Winter was not easy,
nor would the spring return.
I knew you by your absence,
as men are wont to burn
with strange indwelling fire―
such longings you inspire!

But winter was not easy,
nor would the sun relent
from sculpting ****** images
and how could I repent?
I left quaint offerings in the snow,
more maiden than I care to know.



Ann Rutledge’s Irregular Quilt
by Michael R. Burch

based on “Lincoln the Unknown” by Dale Carnegie

I.
Her fingers “plied the needle” with “unusual swiftness and art”
till Abe knelt down beside her: then her demoralized heart
set Eros’s dart a-quiver; thus a crazy quilt emerged:
strange stitches all a-kilter, all patterns lost. (Her host
kept her vicarious laughter barely submerged.)

II.
Years later she’d show off the quilt with its uncertain stitches
as evidence love undermines men’s plans and unevens women’s strictures
(and a plethora of scriptures.)

III.
But O the sacred tenderness Ann’s reckless stitch contains
and all the world’s felicities: rich cloth, for love’s fine gains,
for sweethearts’ tremulous fingers and their bright, uncertain vows
and all love’s blithe, erratic hopes (like now’s).

IV.
Years later on a pilgrimage, by tenderness obsessed,
Dale Carnegie, drawn to her grave, found weeds in her place of rest
and mowed them back, revealing the spot of Lincoln’s joy and grief
(and his hope and his disbelief).

V.
Yes, such is the tenderness of love, and such are its disappointments.
Love is a book of rhapsodic poems. Love is an grab bag of ointments.
Love is the finger poised, the smile, the Question ― perhaps ― and the Answer?

Love is the pain of betrayal, the two left feet of the dancer.

VI.
There were ladies of ill repute in his past. Or so he thought. Was it true?
And yet he loved them, Ann (sweet Ann!), as tenderly as he loved you.

Keywords/Tags: Abraham Lincoln, Ann Rutledge, history, president, love, lover, mistress, paramour, romance, romantic, quilt, Dale Carnegie



Shattered
by Vera Pavlova
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I shattered your heart;
now I limp through the shards
barefoot.



Warming Her Pearls
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Warming her pearls, her *******
gleam like constellations.
Her belly is a bit rotund...
she might have stepped out of a Rubens.

Published by Erosha, The Eclectic Muse, Muse Apprentice Guild, Nisqually Delta Review, Erbacce, Poetry Life & Times and Brief Poems



Squall
by Michael R. Burch

There, in that sunny arbor,
in the aureate light
filtering through the waxy leaves
of a stunted banana tree,

I felt the sudden monsoon of your wrath,
the clattery implosions
and copper-bright bursts
of the bottoms of pots and pans.

I saw your swollen goddess’s belly
wobble and heave
in pregnant indignation,
turned tail, and ran.

Published by Chrysanthemum, Poetry Super Highway, Barbitos and Poetry Life & Times



Villanelle: Hangovers
by Michael R. Burch

We forget that, before we were born,
our parents had “lives” of their own,
ran drunk in the streets, or half-******.

Yes, our parents had lives of their own
until we were born; then, undone,
they were buying their parents gravestones

and finding gray hairs of their own
(because we were born lacking some
of their curious habits, but soon

would certainly get them). Half-******,
we watched them dig graves of their own.
Their lives would be over too soon

for their curious habits to bloom
in us (though our children were born
nine months from that night on the town

when, punch-drunk in the streets or half-******,
we first proved we had lives of our own).



NOTE: The Natchez Trace is the Nashville bar where I met my future wife Beth. We invented a game called "twister pool" which involved billiards, drinking and a fair bit of physical contortion ...

At the Natchez Trace
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

I.
Solitude surrounds me
though nearby laughter sounds;
around me mingle men who think
to drink their demons down,
in rounds.

Beside me stands a woman,
a stanza in the song
that plays so low and fluting
and bids me sing along.

Beside me stands a woman
whose eyes reveal her soul,
whose cheeks are soft as eiderdown,
whose hips and ******* are full.

Beside me stands a woman
who scarcely knows my name;
but I would have her know my heart
if only I knew where to start.

II.
Not every man is as he seems;
not all are prone to poems and dreams.
Not every man would take the time
to meter out his heart in rhyme.
But I am not as other men—
my heart is sentenced to this pen.

III.
Men speak of their "ambition"
but they only know its name . . .
I never say the word aloud,
but I have felt the Flame.

IV.
Now, standing here, I do not dare
to let her know that I might care;
I never learned the lines to use;
I never worked the wolves' bold ruse.
But if she looks my way again,
perhaps I will, if only then.

V.
How can a man have come so far
in searching after every star,
and yet today,
though years away,
look back upon the winding way,
and see himself as he was then,
a child of eight or nine or ten,
and not know more?

VI.
My life is not empty; I have my desire . . .
I write in a moment that few man can know,
when my nerves are on fire
and my heart does not tire
though it pounds at my breast—
wrenching blow after blow.

VII.
And in all I attempted, I also succeeded;
few men have more talent to do what I do.
But in one respect, I stand now defeated;
In love I could never make magic come true.

VIII.
If I had been born to be handsome and charming,
then love might have come to me easily as well.
But if had that been, then would I have written?
If not, I'd remain; **** that demon to hell!

IX.
Beside me stands a woman,
but others look her way
and in their eyes are eagerness . . .
for passion and a wild caress?
But who am I to say?

Beside me stands a woman;
she conjures up the night
and wraps itself around her
till others flit about her
like moths drawn to firelight.

X.
And I, myself, am just as they,
wondering when the light might fade,
yet knowing should it not dim soon
that I might fall and be consumed.

XI.
I write from despair
in the silence of morning
for want of a prayer
and the need of the mourning.
And loneliness grips my heart like a vise;
my anguish is harsher and colder than ice.
But poetry can bring my heart healing
and deaden the pain, or lessen the feeling.
And so I must write till at last sleep has called me
and hope at that moment my pen has not failed me.

XII.
Beside me stands a woman,
a mystery to me.
I long to hold her in my arms;
I also long to flee.

Beside me stands a woman;
how many has she known
more handsome, charming,
chic, alarming?
I hope I never know.

Beside me stands a woman;
how many has she known
who ever wrote her such a poem?
I know not even one.

Keywords/Tags: Natchez, Trace, love, relationship, relationships, pool, billiards, rhyme, hope, pain, painful, solitude, drink, drinking, enigma, angel, stranger, ambiguity, woman



Happily Never After (the Second Curse of the ***** Toad)
by Michael R. Burch

He did not think of love of Her at all
frog-plangent nights, as moons engoldened roads
through crumbling stonewalled provinces, where toads
(nee princes) ruled in chinks and grew so small
at last to be invisible. He smiled
(the fables erred so curiously), and thought
bemusedly of being reconciled
to human flesh, because his heart was not
incapable of love, but, being cursed
a second time, could only love a toad’s . . .
and listened as inflated frogs rehearsed
cheekbulging tales of anguish from green moats . . .
and thought of her soft croak, her skin fine-warted,
his anemic flesh, and how true love was thwarted.



Haunted
by Michael R. Burch

Now I am here
and thoughts of my past mistakes are my brethren.
I am withering
and the sweetness of your memory is like a tear.

Go, if you will,
for the ache in my heart is its hollowness
and the flaw in my soul is its shallowness;
there is nothing to fill.

Take what you can;
I have nothing left.
And when you are gone, I will be bereft,
the husk of a man.

Or stay here awhile.
My heart cannot bear the night, or these dreams.
Your face is a ghost, though paler, it seems
when you smile.

Published by Romantics Quarterly



Have I been too long at the fair?
by Michael R. Burch

Have I been too long at the fair?
The summer has faded,
the leaves have turned brown;
the Ferris wheel teeters ...
not up, yet not down.
Have I been too long at the fair?

This is one of my earliest poems, written around age 15 when we were living with my grandfather in his house on Chilton Street, within walking distance of the Nashville fairgrounds. I remember walking to the fairgrounds, stopping at a Dairy Queen along the way, and swimming at a public pool. But I believe the Ferris wheel only operated during the state fair. So my “educated guess” is that this poem was written during the 1973 state fair, or shortly thereafter. I remember watching people hanging suspended in mid-air, waiting for carnies to deposit them safely on terra firma again.



Her Preference
by Michael R. Burch

Not for her the pale incandescence of dreams,
the warm glow of imagination,
the hushed whispers of possibility,
or frail, blossoming hope.

No, she prefers the anguish and screams
of bitter condemnation,
the hissing of hostility,
damnation's rope.



hey pete
by Michael R. Burch

for Pete Rose

hey pete,
it's baseball season
and the sun ascends the sky,
encouraging a schoolboy's dreams
of winter whizzing by;
go out, go out and catch it,
put it in a jar,
set it on a shelf
and then you'll be a Superstar.

When I was a boy, Pete Rose was my favorite baseball player; this poem is not a slam at him, but rather an ironic jab at the term "superstar."



Nevermore!
by Michael R. Burch

Nevermore! O, nevermore
shall the haunts of the sea―
the swollen tide pools
and the dark, deserted shore―
mark her passing again.

And the salivating sea
shall never kiss her lips
nor caress her ******* and hips
as she dreamt it did before,
once, lost within the uproar.

The waves will never **** her,
nor take her at their leisure;
the sea gulls shall not have her,
nor could she give them pleasure ...
She sleeps forevermore.

She sleeps forevermore,
a ****** save to me
and her other lover,
who lurks now, safely covered
by the restless, surging sea.

And, yes, they sleep together,
but never in that way!
For the sea has stripped and shorn
the one I once adored,
and washed her flesh away.

He does not stroke her honey hair,
for she is bald, bald to the bone!
And how it fills my heart with glee
to hear them sometimes cursing me
out of the depths of the demon sea ...

their skeletal love―impossibility!

This is one of my Poe-like creations, written around age 19. I think the poem has an interesting ending, since the male skeleton is missing an important "member."



Day, and Night
by Michael R. Burch

The moon exposes pockmarked scars of craters;
her visage, veiled by willows, palely looms.
And we who rise each day to grind a living,
dream each scented night of such perfumes
as drew us to the window, to the moonlight,
when all the earth was steeped in cobalt blue―
an eerie vase of achromatic flowers
bled silver by pale starlight, losing hue.

The night begins her waltz to waiting sunrise―
adagio, the music she now hears;
and we who in the sunlight slave for succor,
dreaming, seek communion with the spheres.
And all around the night is in crescendo,
and everywhere the stars’ bright legions form,
and here we hear the sweet incriminations
of lovers we had once to keep us warm.

And also here we find, like bled carnations,
red lips that whitened, kisses drawn to lies,
that touched us once with fierce incantations
and taught us love was prettier than wise.



Flight
by Michael R. Burch

It is the nature of loveliness to vanish
as butterfly wings, batting against nothingness
seek transcendence ...

Originally published by Hibiscus (India)



in-flight convergence
by michael r. burch

serene, almost angelic,
the lights of the city                  extend
over lumbering behemoths shrilly screeching displeasure;
they say
that nothing is certain,
that nothing man dreams or ordains
long endures his command

here the streetlights that flicker
and those blazing steadfast seem one
from a                distance;
           descend?
they abruptly
part                    ways,

so that nothing is one
which at times does not suddenly blend
into garish insignificance
in the familiar alleyways,
in the white neon flash
and the billboards of Convenience

and man seems the afterthought of his own Brilliance
as we thunder down the enlightened runways.

Originally published by The Aurorean and nominated for the Pushcart Prize, then published by Grassroots Poetry, Unlikely Stories, Bewildering Stories, Scarlet Leaf Review, Famous Poets & Poems and Inspirational Stories



The Pictish Faeries
by Michael R. Burch

Smaller and darker
than their closest kin,
the faeries learned only too well
never to dwell
close to the villages of larger men.

Only to dance in the starlight
when the moon was full
and men were afraid.
Only to worship in the farthest glade,
ever heeding the raven and the gull.



Chit Chat: in the Poetry Chat Room
WHY SHULD I LERN TO SPELL?
HELL,
NO ONE REEDS WHAT I SAY
ANYWAY!!! :(

Sing for the cool night,
whispers of constellations.
Sing for the supple grass,
the tall grass, gently whispering.
Sing of infinities, multitudes,
of all that lies beyond us now,
whispers begetting whispers.
And i am glad to also whisper . . .

I WUS HURT IN LUV I’M DYIN’
FER TH’ TEARS I BEEN A-CRYIN’!!!

i abide beyond serenities
and realms of grace,
above love’s misdirected earth,
i lift my face.
i am beyond finding now . . .

I WAS IN, LOVE, AND HE ******* ME!!!
THE ****!!! TOTALLY!!!

i loved her once, before, when i
was mortal too, and sometimes i
would listen and distinctly hear
her laughter from the juniper,
but did not go . . .

I JUST DON’T GET POETRY, SOMETIMES.
IT’S OKAY, I GUESS.
I REALLY DON’T READ THAT MUCH AT ALL,
I MUST CONFESS!!! ;-)

Travail, inherent to all flesh,
i do not know, nor how to feel,
although i sing them nighttimes still:
the bitter woes, that do not heal . . .

POETRY IS BORING!!!
SEE, IT *****!!! I’M SNORING!!! ZZZZZZZ!!!

The words like breath, i find them here,
among the fragrant juniper,
and conifers amid the snow,
old loves imagined long ago . . .

WHY DON’T YOU LIKE MY PERFICKT WORDS
YOU USELESS UN-AMERIC’N TURDS?!!!

What use is love, to me, or Thou?
O Words, my awe, to fly so smooth
above the anguished hearts of men
to heights unknown, Thy bare remove . . .

Keywords/Tags: Poetry, writing, chit, chat room, forum, website, social media, workshop, mortal, mortality, grass, multitudes, Walt Whitman, love, awe, serenity, serenities, grace, heights, Parnassus, art, spelling, grammar



Renee Vivien Translations

Renee Vivien was a British lesbian and cross-dresser who wrote poems primarily in French.

Song
by Renée Vivien
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When the moon weeps,
illuminating flowers on the graves of the faithful,
my memories creep
back to you, wrapped in flightless wings.

It's getting late; soon we will sleep
(your eyes already half closed)
steeped
in the shimmering air.

O, the agony of burning roses:
your forehead discloses
a heavy despondency,
though your hair floats lightly ...

In the night sky the stars burn whitely
as the Goddess nightly
resurrects flowers that fear the sun
and die before dawn ...



Undine
by Renée Vivien
loose translation/interpretation by Kim Cherub (an alias of Michael R. Burch)

Your laughter startles, your caresses rake.
Your cold kisses love the evil they do.
Your eyes―blue lotuses drifting on a lake.

Lilies are less pallid than your face.

You move like water parting.
Your hair falls in rootlike tangles.
Your words like treacherous rapids rise.
Your arms, flexible as reeds, strangle,

Choking me like tubular river reeds.
I shiver in their enlacing embrace.
Drowning without an illuminating moon,
I vanish without a trace,

lost in a nightly swoon.



Veronica Franco translations

Veronica Franco (1546-1591) was a Venetian courtesan who wrote literary-quality poetry and prose.

Capitolo 19: A Courtesan's Love Lyric (I)
by Veronica Franco
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

"I resolved to make a virtue of my desire."

My rewards will be commensurate with your gifts
if only you give me the one that lifts
me laughing...

And though it costs you nothing,
still it is of immense value to me.

Your reward will be
not just to fly
but to soar, so high
that your joys vastly exceed your desires.

And my beauty, to which your heart aspires
and which you never tire of praising,
I will employ for the raising
of your spirits. Then, lying sweetly at your side,
I will shower you with all the delights of a bride,
which I have more expertly learned.

Then you who so fervently burned
will at last rest, fully content,
fallen even more deeply in love, spent
at my comfortable *****.

When I am in bed with a man I blossom,
becoming completely free
with the man who loves and enjoys me.

Here is a second, more formal version of the same poem, translated into rhymed couplets...

Capitolo 19: A Courtesan's Love Lyric (II)
by Veronica Franco
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

"I resolved to make a virtue of my desire."

My rewards will match your gifts
If you give me the one that lifts
Me, laughing. If it comes free,
Still, it is of immense value to me.
Your reward will be—not just to fly,
But to soar—so incredibly high
That your joys eclipse your desires
(As my beauty, to which your heart aspires
And which you never tire of praising,
I employ for your spirit's raising) .
Afterwards, lying docile at your side,
I will grant you all the delights of a bride,
Which I have more expertly learned.
Then you, who so fervently burned,
Will at last rest, fully content,
Fallen even more deeply in love, spent
At my comfortable *****.
When I am in bed with a man I blossom,
Becoming completely free
With the man who freely enjoys me.

Franco published two books: "Terze rime" (a collection of poems)and "Lettere familiari a diversi" (a collection of letters and poems). She also collected the works of other writers into anthologies and founded a charity for courtesans and their children. And she was an early champion of women's rights, one of the first ardent, outspoken feminists that we know by name today. For example...

Capitolo 24
by Veronica Franco
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

(written by Franco to a man who had insulted a woman)

Please try to see with sensible eyes
how grotesque it is for you
to insult and abuse women!
Our unfortunate *** is always subject
to such unjust treatment, because we
are dominated, denied true freedom!
And certainly we are not at fault
because, while not as robust as men,
we have equal hearts, minds and intellects.
Nor does virtue originate in power,
but in the vigor of the heart, mind and soul:
the sources of understanding;
and I am certain that in these regards
women lack nothing,
but, rather, have demonstrated
superiority to men.
If you think us "inferior" to yourself,
perhaps it's because, being wise,
we outdo you in modesty.
And if you want to know the truth,
the wisest person is the most patient;
she squares herself with reason and with virtue;
while the madman thunders insolence.
The stone the wise man withdraws from the well
was flung there by a fool...

Life was not a bed of roses for Venetian courtesans. Although they enjoyed the good graces of their wealthy patrons, religious leaders and commoners saw them as symbols of vice. Once during a plague, Franco was banished from Venice as if her "sins" had helped cause it. When she returned in 1577, she faced the Inquisition and charges of "witchcraft." She defended herself in court and won her freedom, but lost all her material possessions. Eventually, Domenico Venier, her major patron, died in 1582 and left her with no support. Her tax declaration of that same year stated that she was living in a section of the city where many destitute prostitutes ended their lives. She may have died in poverty at the age of forty-five.

Hollywood produced a movie based on her life: "Dangerous Beauty."

When I bed a man
who—I sense—truly loves and enjoys me,
I become so sweet and so delicious
that the pleasure I bring him surpasses all delight,
till the tight
knot of love,
however slight
it may have seemed before,
is raveled to the core.
—Veronica Franco, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

We danced a youthful jig through that fair city—
Venice, our paradise, so pompous and pretty.
We lived for love, for primal lust and beauty;
to please ourselves became our only duty.
Floating there in a fog between heaven and earth,
We grew drunk on excesses and wild mirth.
We thought ourselves immortal poets then,
Our glory endorsed by God's illustrious pen.
But paradise, we learned, is fraught with error,
and sooner or later love succumbs to terror.
—Veronica Franco, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In response to a friend urging Veronica Franco to help her daughter become a courtesan, Franco warns her that the profession can be devastating:

"Even if Fortune were only benign and favorable to you in this endeavor, this life is such that in any case it would always be wretched. It is such an unhappy thing, and so contrary to human nature, to subject one's body and activity to such slavery that one is frightened just by the thought of it: to let oneself be prey to many, running the risk of being stripped, robbed, killed, so that one day can take away from you what you have earned with many men in a long time, with so many other dangers of injury and horrible contagious disease: to eat with someone else's mouth, to sleep with someone else's eyes, to move according to someone else's whim, running always toward the inevitable shipwreck of one's faculties and life. Can there be greater misery than this? ... Believe me, among all the misfortunes that can befall a human being in the world, this life is the worst."

I confess I became a courtesan, traded yearning for power, welcomed many rather than be owned by one. I confess I embraced a *****'s freedom over a wife's obedience.—"Dangerous Beauty"

I wish it were not considered a sin
to have liked *******.
Women have yet to realize
the cowardice that presides.
And if they should ever decide
to fight the shallow,
I would be the first, setting an example for them to follow.
—Veronica Franco, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Yahya Kemal Beyatli translations

Yahya Kemal Beyatli (1884-1958) was a Turkish poet, editor, columnist and historian, as well as a politician and diplomat. Born born Ahmet Âgâh, he wrote under the pen names Agâh Kemal, Esrar, Mehmet Agâh, and Süleyman Sadi. He served as Turkey’s ambassador to Poland, Portugal and Pakistan.

Sessiz Gemi (“Silent Ship”)
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

for the refugees

The time to weigh anchor has come;
a ship departing harbor slips quietly out into the unknown,
cruising noiselessly, its occupants already ghosts.
No flourished handkerchiefs acknowledge their departure;
the landlocked mourners stand nurturing their grief,
scanning the bleak horizon, their eyes blurring...
Poor souls! Desperate hearts! But this is hardly the last ship departing!
There is always more pain to unload in this sorrowful life!
The hesitations of lovers and their belovèds are futile,
for they cannot know where the vanished are bound.
Many hopes must be quenched by the distant waves,
since years must pass, and no one returns from this journey.

Full Moon
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

You are so lovely
the full moon just might
delight
in your rising,
as curious
and bright,
to vanquish night.

But what can a mortal man do,
dear,
but hope?
I’ll ponder your mysteries
and (hmmmm) try to
cope.

We both know
you have every right to say no.

The Music of the Snow
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This melody of a night lasting longer than a thousand years!
This music of the snow supposed to last for thousand years!

Sorrowful as the prayers of a secluded monastery,
It rises from a choir of a hundred voices!

As the *****’s harmonies resound profoundly,
I share the sufferings of Slavic grief.

Then my mind drifts far from this city, this era,
To the old records of Tanburi Cemil Bey.

Now I’m suddenly overjoyed as once again I hear,
With the ears of my heart, the purest sounds of Istanbul!

Thoughts of the snow and darkness depart me;
I keep them at bay all night with my dreams!

Translator’s notes: “Slavic grief” because Beyatli wrote this poem while in Warsaw, serving as Turkey’s ambassador to Poland, in 1927. Tanburi Cemil Bey was a Turkish composer. Keywords/Tags: Beyatli, Agah, Kemal, Esrar, Turkish, translation, Turkey, silent, ship, anchor, harbor, ghosts, grief, Istanbul, moon, music, snow



Lines for My Ascension
by Michael R. Burch

I.
If I should die,
there will come a Doom,
and the sky will darken
to the deepest Gloom.

But if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

II.
If I should die,
let no mortal say,
“Here was a man,
with feet of clay,

or a timid sparrow
God’s hand let fall.”
But watch the sky darken
to an eerie pall

and know that my Spirit,
unvanquished, broods,
and cares naught for graves,
prayers, coffins, or roods.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

III.
If I should die,
let no man adore
his incompetent Maker:
Zeus, Jehovah, or Thor.

Think of Me as One
who never died―
the unvanquished Immortal
with the unriven side.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

IV.
And if I should “die,”
though the clouds grow dark
as fierce lightnings rend
this bleak asteroid, stark ...

If you look above,
you will see a bright Sign―
the sun with the moon
in its arms, Divine.

So divine, if you can,
my bright meaning, and know―
my Spirit is mine.
I will go where I go.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.


Published as the collection "Daredevil"

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